Highlands & Islands

Children in Ardnamurchan given whisky cask investment

Whisky cask initiative Image copyright Ardnamurchan Trust/PA
Image caption A charity and a distillery are working together on the project

Casks of whisky are to be bought for children in a west Highland community for them to sell when they turn 18.

A charity is offering to make the investment on behalf of young people aged 10 to 17 in the Ardnamurchan area.

Once 18, they can sell the spirit back to the distillery or a bottling firm, potentially making more than £3,000, to fund further education or training.

Some alcohol campaigners, however, have criticised the initiative, describing it as "inappropriate" marketing.

The plan has been devised by the Ardnamurchan Trust, working with the Ardnamurchan Distillery's owner Adelphi, to help young people while at the same time boosting the local economy.

'Directly profit'

The casks of newly-made spirit would remain at the distillery as an investment. The profits the young people would receive would depend on the market at the time the whisky was sold.

Alex Bruce, managing director of Adelphi, said: "This scheme will benefit young people in the Ardnamurchan area, who will directly profit from the sale of their local whisky.

"We'll also be offering additional support by forging further links with the community and local businesses, as well as offering work experience and training throughout all aspects of the business.

"In addition to supporting the next generation from an early age, it also gives us security of an established long-term employment pool in the area."

Image copyright Mark Armin Giesler
Image caption The casks would remain at Ardnamurchan Distillery

A spokesman for the trust said: "With the ongoing support of the Scottish government and Scotland Food and Drink, we hope the scheme can be replicated through other community initiatives across the industry."

The organisers of the initiative said it also had the support of Drinkaware.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing described the initiative as "innovative and thoughtful".

'Drinking behaviour'

He added: "It is particularly fitting that this is being launched during the Year of Young People and makes for a fine legacy from this year's events and activities.

"Scotland's whisky distilleries do much to support their local communities and economies, but equally those distilleries could not exist without the skills and expertise provided by people living in those communities."

However, Alcohol Focus Scotland said it did not consider the scheme appropriate.

Chief executive Alison Douglas said: "Young people's drinking behaviour is influenced by their exposure to alcohol marketing.

"This scheme goes beyond traditional marketing techniques by providing a direct financial benefit to young people from their association with the brand.

"With the high cost of alcohol harm in Scotland being widely recognised, and efforts being made to reduce the burden of alcohol harm on our communities, it would seem irresponsible to be using this particular initiative as an economic driver."

The Ardnamurchan peninsula has a widely dispersed population with its main communities such as Acharacle, Kilchoan and Strontianare each home to only a few hundred people.

The largest school, Ardnamurchan High, has a roll of just over 100 pupils.